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Illinois divorce, part 2: stating the grounds

In our January 10 post, we wrote how even what seems like a simple divorce in Illinois can be more complicated than it seems. In this post, let's start with the premise that you probably have a few thorny issues to resolve.

Divorce in Illinois does require that a party state grounds for the divorce. Though this requirement is not necessarily a huge hurdle, you should understand what it means in practice.

In Illinois, it is still possible to state specific legal grounds. Cruelty - either mental or physical - is one of these. Desertion is another.

Such specific grounds, however, have become less important in the legal landscape that is popularly known as "no-fault" divorce. The operative term for this in Illinois is "irreconcilable differences." In practice, it means that the broken down and that reconciliation is no longer a realistic prospect.

Technically, in order to plead irreconcilable differences, parties are supposed to have been separated for two years. Obviously, though, if taken literally, such a requirement would be a potential deal-breaker for many divorces.

After all, especially in the wake of the Great Recession, many couples struggle to pay the bills for one household, much less two. The financial resources to have one spouse move out and get another house or rent an apartment may simply not be there.

The law does recognize some flexibility, however, in the application of the separation requirement. The parties may agree to waive the two-year requirement, if they have been separated at least six months.

To be sure, the financial hardships of such even a six-month separation may be considerable. But a six-month requirement is definitely easier to meet than two years. There may be short-term possibilities available for six months, such as moving in with a friend or relative, that would not be so feasible for two years.

Source: "The basics of a divorce case," The Madison-St. Clair Record," Rita Novak, 1-7-12

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